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O’Donnell stars as Derry lead the Ulster quest for Cup success

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Tyrone’s Conor Grogan. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Tyrone’s Conor Grogan. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Tyrone’s Conor Grogan. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ulster hurling certainly got a shot in the arm over the course of the weekend when no fewer than four teams — Derry, Tyrone, Cavan and Fermanagh — reached All-Ireland finals at different levels.

Derry led the way by overcoming Sligo by 0-28 to 1-17 in the semi-final of the Christy Ring Cup and will now meet Offaly in the final. Skipper Cormac O’Doherty led the way by landing 12 points with Ger Bradley grabbing six and Sé McGuigan and Odhran McKeever each contributing two.

While Joe McHugh and Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch did their best to galvanise Sligo, Derry’s greater cohesion and work-rate proved key elements in their win.

Tyrone also hit the headlines by overcoming Donegal in the semi-final of the Nickey Rackard Cup by 2-23 to 1-21.

Goals from Cian Ferguson and Conor Grogan fired the Red Hands into a 2-11 to 1-11 interval lead before Damian Casey, Rory Weir and Lorcan Devlin helped to cement the team’s second-half advantage.

In the other semi-final Armagh lost to Mayo by 2-23 to 2-9 after having given a good account of themselves in the first-half before fading after the break.

Tyrone boss Michael McShane hailed his side’s overall effort at the finish.

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“It’s great to have got through to the final but we face a big task in it,” declared McShane.

Fermanagh and Cavan will now contest the Lory Meagher Cup final at Croke Park following their semi-final wins over Longford and Louth respectively.

A Sean Corrigan goal, which he complemented with a raft of points, proved crucial in Fermanagh’s win with Tom Keenan, Barney McAuley, Kevin McGarry and C J McGourty also making significant contributions.

Fermanagh boss Joe Baldwin had a particular reason to see his side progress into the final.

“We have had players just coming back on board and settling in again. I have always thought that at full strength we could prove a match for any team, but now we must show that we are capable of facing into a stiff challenge at Croke Park,” said Baldwin.

Cavan held their nerve to come out on top in their semi-final against Louth by 1-21 to 0-20 with Brian Fitzgerald leading the way in the scoring stakes. Diarmaid Carney, Kevin Conneely and Cillain Sheanan also made useful contributions while Paul Matthews, Darren Geoghegan and Feidhleim Joyce were to the fore for Louth.

Meanwhile, the line-up for the All-Ireland Hurling Championship became a little clearer on Saturday.

Joining Dublin and Tipperary in the pot for today’s quarter-final draw are Waterford and Cork.

The Rebels squeezed past Clare by 3-19 to 1-23 while Waterford just had too much for Galway winning 1-30 to 3-20.

And a scintillating display from PJ Scully saw Laois just about retain their NHL Division 1 status with a hard-fought 1-27 to 0-27 win over Westmeath.

In a pulsating game, the Laois corner-forward finished with 0-17, as his side overturned a six point half-time deficit.


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